In this recurring series, I’ll analyze the origins of Pokémon designs, their culture, and their historical allusions to British culture.
Yamper first appeared during the E3 demo as a Pokémon that you could use in the battle, and soon carved a spot in our hearts.
Yamper seems to be a combination of the words “yap”, “amp”, and “scamper” according to Bulbapedia. Its design is based on a Welsh Corgi, a good selection for a dog Pokémon in a region that includes Wales. The inclusion of ‘amp’ in its name is due to its electric typing.
Yamper’s energetic nature ties into its type, as the natural energy that corgis have is here represented by a literal external form of energy.
Their habit of chasing after moving things is further alluded to with its new ability Ball Fetch, which allows it to pick up a Pokeball if you threw it and didn’t catch a Pokemon. This ability only works if Yamper wasn’t previously holding anything, as it holds onto the item after thrown.
This game mechanic is similar to mechanics for arrow recovery in other video games. In Skyrim, for example, you typically are able to recover 33% of the arrows you shoot from your target’s body after killing them. However, that 33% chance works for all the arrows, not just the first.
This Pokémon is very popular as a herding dog in the Galar region. As it runs, it generates electricity from the base of its tail.
This gluttonous Pokémon only assists people with their work because it wants treats. As it runs, it crackles with electricity.
Welsh corgis have a very long history in Wales. They were used for many centuries primarily for herding cattle and sheep. Given their small size, they were able to maneuver animals by biting at their legs. This herding behavior is alluded to in the first gym with Milo in Turffield.
Within the species of Welsh Corgi, there are two specific breeds: the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Both species have been placed on the Vulnerable Native Breeds list from The Kennel Club, although the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is no longer there.
Even though it’s not a popular type of dog, it is one that is closely associated with Queen Elizabeth II. She got her first corgi in 1933, named Dookie, and has continued to raise generations of dogs. She has also owned a crossbreed of a corgi with a dachshund called a dorgi.
Yamper evolves into Boltund, which is based on a hound. Its name, a combination of “bolt” and “hound”, is a reflection of its appearance. It has the slim athletic body of a hound, in particular it seems based on the English Foxhound in its color patterns and shape..
The foxhound is a breed of dog that are known for their strong sense of smell and their hunting instincts. Within the breed, there are four variations based on the country where they are bred. The English Foxhound in particular is noted for its friendliness with people and other dogs and have a great deal of stamina.
This Pokémon generates electricity and channels it into its legs to keep them going strong. Boltund can run nonstop for three full days.
It sends electricity through its legs to boost their strength. Running at top speed, it easily breaks 50 mph.
Foxhounds get their name based on the practice of fox hunting, an activity that originated in England in the sixteenth century. In the Galarian ecosystem, it makes sense that there is animosity between Boltund and Thievul, which is reflected in Thievul’s Pokédex entry:
With a lithe body and sharp claws, it goes around stealing food and eggs. Boltund is its natural enemy.
Yamper’s Pokédex designation is “Puppy Pokemon”, the same as Growlithe, Lillipup, and Rockruff, plus Snubbull and Granbull. Each of these Pokémon have different types and are based on different dog breeds. As there are numerous breeds, each are able to stand out on their own while all sharing canine traits.
Yamper’s line represents the great dogs of British culture, small and big. The corgi has played a role in domesticating animals and has prominence in royal society. The foxhound has a role in British hunting culture and remains a popular pet today.
The several breeds of foxhounds opens the opportunity for regional variants in the future. Would a Boltund variation be based on an American Foxhound one day? There are still many breeds of dogs that are not represented, and perhaps you’ll see your favorite dog breed as a Pokémon in a future generation. Let us know in the comments or on Discord!